Brian Jonestown Massacre Interview

Blast from the PAST 2000
This interview was done in the last part of 2000. But now Anton Newcombe and BJM are as vital as ever. Even Iggy Pop and Patti Smith have become fans. Check out Anton in action. His wit is alive as ever. BJM will be touring in America starting July 15th.

Still Strung Out in Heaven
by Alexander Laurence

One of the best shows at the recent CMJ Festival in NYC was Brian Jonestown Massacre. Many people witnessed this amazing show. We agreed that we had to get an interview for the next issue.

BJM formed in San Francisco about ten years ago. I saw Anton Newcombe and his friends play a few shows at some small clubs and obscure bars. A few years later I found out that they had moved to LA and had released a bunch of records. When the breakthrough Strung Out in Heaven came out about two years ago, BJM turned the sound of the Stones circa 1968 upside down by adding a unique style of drone. Anton Newcombe has always been a mysterious figure. He is articulate and well spoken in interviews and seems to have an opinion on every subject. I met up with him in Hollywood, right after he finished a few shows with The Dandy Warhols. BJM had just completed a tour of Canada as well. They have a new CD out called ZERO.


AL: Are you still on tour?

Anton: We just finished a tour of Canada. We played some shows in America too. The last leg of the tour in Canada, right after CMJ, was really good. Extraordinarily good I think.

AL: You have a big fan base in Canada?

Anton: We have a really strong following. We did two days in Toronto. We have a solid base of loyal fans up there. It's cool. There are a lot of people there into different types of music. The laws in Canada are different than in America. They are required to play Canadian content on television and radio. At least twenty percent has to be from Canada. So that forces younger bands to do different types of music to be out there. It's really healthy. We have a record deal up there.

AL: So what is up with all the different labels? You have your own label, you have put records out yourself, and you are on Bomp Records and TVT.

Anton: I just put out an EP on my own label. It's called Zero. It's on my label through Bomp. I use them as the manufacturer. So I have all these distributors. It's not that crazy if you think about it. Madonna has her own label, but is distributed by Warner Brothers. In England, we have an office for all the things that go through Bomp. So we'll do that there. I'll do other things with other little labels. I don't have a jumbo deal in Europe although I'm working on it.

AL: But you released Strung Out on Heaven with TVT. Was that a one record deal?

Anton: I signed a four record deal with TVT in America. It's kind of up in the air whether I'm going to follow through with that, because the kind of music we play and the kind of record deal that we have. I am a risk for them. So is Guides by Voices and bands like them. We're not doing great like Sevendust. We're not going platinum. That's what that label is trying to do. It's a business just like everything else. They just signed Snoop Dogg. They didn't do it because he's cool. They did it because all the wiggers are really into it.

AL: Yeah. I'm really against all the wigger stuff. I was really into the music. I saw Run-DMC and Grandmaster Flash play back in 1984. I was into NWA and Public Enemy. But I never wore the baggy pants or smoked a ton of pot and acted black. I'm not flashing gang signs.

Anton: What's really funny is all the Vanilla Ice looking people with the FUBU. They're all "Shit, yo! Don't make me bust a cap on your ass!" I'm intrigued by it. Of course there's a history to that stuff, like whether you're a Jewish kid in the 1940s listening to Bebop. There's no problem being into stuff. I listen to Arabic music all day long. There's that lower common denominator. It's silliness. You have all these DMX dudes with their pit bulls and their gunfight videos. Sweating the bitches. All that crap. You see a couple of them fighting at the Source Awards. But those people are businessmen. It's a joke to them too.

AL: So your band started in San Francisco, about 1990. Matt Hollywood, Jeffery Davies, Joel Gion, and yourself were there from the beginning?

Anton: Yeah. Matt and Jeff both played at the first show we ever played. I guess Matt is living in Portland. He is playing Country music. He's doing his thing. Jeff Davies plays with us off and on. He played with us the other night.

Jeff has another band called Smallstone. Joel was down here when we played with The Dandy Warhols. As far as line up changes: different people have different goals in their lives. It's not everyone's goal to be stuck in a van touring. Roughing it to make records. I always chose to make records and play with my friends rather than "I want to be a rock star" sort of people. I always play with different people.

AL: But most bands come out with a record and they tour with the songs on that record and promote the current material. You come out with six records in one year and tour whenever. It doesn't seem to to follow any logic.

Anton: We play all kinds of stuff. Almost half of our set is stuff we have never even bothered to record. I like it. It's live music that goes together with the other songs. We tend to play a little bit from everything because we have released 170 songs so far. I'm not exaggerating. Even fifteen of those songs is a long set.

We're in Pink Floyd land or something. Basically we try to make up a good set. The way we sound live, if we play our songs right, is better than we can ever record it. It has its own experience. It's good that we play well. It's usually better than the recorded experience. That's a neat thing. We don't even have to play the songs on the record. It's just good live music. That wall of guitars. I like it.

AL: How many chords do you need for a proper BJM song?

Anton: Everything is in A. It's almost exactly the same. When we go on tour we always find out that we have crazy amount of dynamic range. We just played with The Dandy Warhols a few nights ago. We fucked up a lot. But the amount of range we cover is very large. While they come off as ACDC on Thorazine. It's just straight on. There's no place for it to go. But we brake into quiet parts and we have the same overload. It changes up. It's good. For how simple it is surprisingly it also goes into a couple of different places.

AL: You played on the new Dandy Warhols record. What was that like?

Anton: It was great. We were at my studio in LA and we all just worked on songs. It was funny. I have known those guys since they started. I always loved their music. It was strange because when I was working on the record, I was sure that it was cheesy, and I wouldn't like it. But when I heard the whole album, I thought it was better. There are a few songs that I don't like, but the rest of it is great. I have mixed feelings.

I don't listen to Radiohead because I don't need them. I am already writing my own music that fulfills the same headspace that you would look for in that kind of art. I'm not too interested. Then I have to compare it to everything else that is out there. Of course I dig Radiohead more than Slipknot.

AL: Would you go on tour with some mainstream act if they asked you to open up for them?

Anton: You can respect people because they create a bunch of jobs. But I don't respect people just because they make a lot of money. So do drug pushers, gun dealers, hookers, and pimps: they all make a lot of money. The Mafia makes a lot of money. People who sell kiddy porn make a lot of money. I don't have to respect them just because they have the sales. I respect people who are worthy of my respect.

Kid Rock mixes up genres and he's funny. I respect the fact that Kid Rock worked his way up from the trailer park or whatever. But I don't respect Eminem for cursing a lot about the way he says he's going to beat up fags and his wife. It doesn't mean anything to me. It's completely retarded. I just pretend that everyone is speaking Chinese.

Eminen's records are never as appealing as Dr. Dre's, even though Dre produces all his shit.

I just wipe my ass with most urban contemporary culture. I think it's elementary. It doesn't move my brain whatsoever. If someone asked me to go on tour with Korn, Outkast, and Limp Biscuit, I wouldn't go. I wouldn't have a good time. But in a situation like Reading, or a European festival, sure I would play with those bands. For me it's about the music. Less about knowing how to do Kung Fu and beating the shit out of someone on MTV. Obviously I don't make a lot of money. I don't have strippers lined up around the corner waiting to give me blowjobs because of my music. I have been doing it since 1990 because I like music despite lineup changes and bad press.

AL: What about Genesis P-Orridge? Is he an influence or did you collaborate with him?

Anton: He loaned me his studios in Oakland, and I did one of the records there. Larry Thrasher and Genesis had a recording studio and all this recording gear for Psychic TV. They liked my music and helped me record and gave me studio time. I really do like to collaborate. I am working with a guy from Australia right now. He has a band called Color Sound. I have been trying to record with a few different people. It's just logistics.

AL: What are you doing for the rest of the year?

Anton: We plan to go to Europe and to Japan again. I'm working on my ninth album. I'm going to finish that then try to license them all over in Europe. I will probably spend more time over there. People like it but it's harder to get the records. Right now I'm writing some rock stuff and psychedelic things. There's not too much acoustic stuff. Right now I'm really working on harmonies. I really into The Mamas and The Papas and The Hollies....

AL: Do you like The Beach Boys Pet Sounds? It seems to be a major influence to a lot of bands today.

Anton: Oh yeah. They had a whole orchestra playing on Pet Sounds. I went to see Brian Wilson in concert. It was amazing. Even though Brian Wilson couldn't sing so hot, it was still great. You want to cut him some slack.

It was the Hollywood Bowl and it was five bucks to get in. You can bring booze and sit and listen to your favorite records. That was one of the best concerts I've seen in a long time. That and Primal Scream in LA. It was great.

Primal Scream is really popular in Europe. I know those guys and they're really cool. It's amazing that their record was really house-y, like DJs produced it, but when they played live, they came off like every great band in their peak. One song sounded like PIL at their greatest time, the next song was like New Order, blazing with a different attitude. It was amazing. I had seen them before when they had all the black chicks onstage and I was bored out of my head. It was a soul revue. What the fuck? They were going through a bad phase.

AL: Are there any books that you are reading worth mentioning?

Anton: You know what I'm reading? It's from Cambridge Press. It's about how Islam is separated into Shiite and Sunnis. It's a mystical sect of Islam. It's an academic book and it's over fourteen hundred pages. The old man of the mountain. It's crazy stuff and it influences me. I'm not into fiction. I like history and anthropology, mind control and cults. I'm not into serial killers but I am into the origins of stuff like Scientology. I find it fascinating.

AL: Any thoughts on the presidential election?

Anton: It's suspicious. There's no doubt in my mind that there's some hanky panky going on down there. The way that they are behaving is really hypocritical. On the BBC they reported that a few ballot boxes were found in black churches. Nobody came to pick them up. It's amazing that people are not outraged over it. Even people who voted for Gore are already wanting it to be over. Even though by the law they have to count those votes. It's going to take some time. They start making fun of it. Then they watch it on the news. Everybody wants to get it over with. It's weird. It's a process. That's what happens when you have a close election. It's never happened before.

AL: Do you follow the Brian Jonestown Massacre website and the mailing list?

Anton: I answer every single email I get. I'm right in the thick of that. We have a few websites that you can find on the Bomp website. There's links to everything. I think that it's great that people have opinions. People have their opinions about what they like and what they don't like. People have reasons why they believe things. In the 1980s there were little girls who made up their own words to songs by the Cocteau Twins, every when there wasn't any. People buy Japanese versions of The Smiths records and you read the lyrics and it's not even what the guy was saying. I'll let people settle things amongst themselves. Some people say "I think this new music is weak" and other people say "I love it!" Whatever. The e-group has about ten thousand messages. The stuff at the beginning is so out of control. But when I got on there, they started to shut up. But I don't really care what they think, as long as they think.

AL: How did you get involved with Bomp Records?

Anton: The way I got hooked up with Bomp was I got a hold of a Spaceman 3 record. I thought that they must have open minds because they were a junkie band that will never tour. And I thought that they would understand my music. And they did.


USA Tour 2005

JULY 2005
US dates w/Quarter After
15 * Bottom of the Hill * San Francisco CA *
16 * Old Ironsides * Sacramento CA *
18 * Velvet Room w/ The Warlocks * Salt Lake City UT *
19 * Larimer Lounge w/ The Warlocks * Denver CO *
20 * Larimer Lounge w/ The Warlocks * Denver CO *
22 * 400 Bar * Minneapolis MN *
23 * The Patio (Midwest Music Summit) * Indianapolis IN *
24 * Lollapalooza Festival * Chicago IL *&* Official Lollapalooza After Party - The Dark Room *
25 * Little Brothers * Columbus OH *
26 * Grog Shop * Cleveland OH *
27 * THE PHOENIX * Toronto ON *
28 * El Salon * Montreal QC *
29 * TT The Bears * Cambridge MA *
30 * Bowery Ballroom * New York NY *
31 * Bowery Ballroom * New York NY *
2 * MAXWELLS * hoboken NJ *
4 * DC9 * Washington D.C. *
5 * Local 506 * Chapel Hill NC *
6 * Earl * Atlanta GA *
7 * Will's Pub * Orlando FL *
10 * TwiRoPa * New Orleans LA *
11 * Walter's On Washington * Houston TX *
12 * The Parish (formerly The Mercury) * Austin TX *
13 * TREES * Dallas TX *
15 * Launchpad * Albuquerque NM *
16 * Plush * Tucson AZ *
17 * Casbah * San Diego CA *
18 * Vanguard Theater * Los Angeles CA *

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LACDA: Snap To Grid

L.A. Center For Digital Art Open Call (Every Entry Shown!)

Los Angeles Center For Digital Art
107 West Fifth Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

second annual
the UN-Juried Show

Every Entry Shown!

Click here to register:

September 8-October 1
Opening Reception Thursday September 8, 7-9pm

Show your work at our gallery in our Un-Juried Competition: Snap to Grid. In our second annual exhibition of this kind participants each upload one image to be printed on high quality paper and hung in a grid in our gallery. The show will be widely promoted and will include a reception for the artists.

After the exhibition the images and artist information will be available to view in our artist portfolios. Artwork for future exhibits will be selected from the portfolios, and will also be available for review by area gallerists, curators and arts journalists. Everybody wins!
Entry fee $30US. Proceeds benefit gallery programs.

Show is international, open to all geographical locations.
Entrants submit one JPEG file of original work up to 2mb. All styles of 2D artwork and photography where digital processes of any kind were integral to the creation of the images are acceptable. Digital video stills and screen shots of web/new media are acceptable.
Multiple entries are permitted. $30 registration fee for each additional image. Exhibit is limited to space available, early entry is advised.

Gallery Statement:
Every year for 50 years the L.A. Municipal Gallery has held its "Open Call" exhibit where any artist can show up with their art and an entry fee (to benefit gallery programs) and the piece is shown. The Los Angeles Center For Digital Art decided to launch an international experiment of the same nature where the artists upload images that are printed and hung by the gallery. The hundreds of works are displayed in a grid like installation (reminiscent of postcard art shows of the 1980's) where every work submitted is exhibited. The usual (less than democratic) selection process where only the precious few are chosen is turned on its head in a curatorial anarchy where everyone gets to participate and the viewer is literally left to be the judge. The show represents a snapshot of a current moment in art history when digital imaging has reached the hands of the many, an age where culture belongs to the "mobblogers" around the globe. From Thailand to Texas, amateur to academic, beautiful to banal and beyond the monumental quantity and variety of "Snap to Grid" becomes an aesthetic experience where each individual piece adds to an agglomerative effect that has a life of its own.

Deadline for entries:
August 28, 2005
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Annie Interview

ANNIE Interview
By alexander laurence

Annie is a 25-year-old blonde babe from Norway. She is from Bergen, Norway.
Her real name is Anna Lilia Berge Strand. She is already a classic pop star, in
the tradition of Madonna and Blondie. “Anniemal” is one of the most
anticipated records of the year. This record has already got a lot of notice in the
underground. People like Stereogum and Fluxblog have been raving about it for a
year. It’s been very popular in England and Sweden. Finally it has hit America
shores with a proper release in June 2005. It is amazing. Imagine a record
that sounds like early Madonna jamming with Saint Etienne. The first single
“Chewing Gun” draws inspiration from Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love.” Annie’s
knowledge of good music comes from the fact that she is also a DJ. It’s a
totally modern sounding record made to be a soundtrack for the summer.

This record has already caught the attention of bands like LCD Soundsystem
and Scissor Sisters. Maybe it was because of songs like “Always Too Late” which
is more like Detroit techno. The songs “Me Plus One” and “My Heartbeat” are
truly great. They are the sound of good times. They are like the summer of
1984 relived. There are no weak tracks on this whole album. “Helpless Fool For
Love” and “Anniemal” are more disco oriented. “No Easy Love” is the most like
Saint Etienne and their fascination for Northern Soul. Annie actually is
supporting Saint Etienne in England in June 2005.

On this record Annie has also collaborated with Richards X and Royksopp. She
also works with Timothy Kaukolampi, who she also tours with. The music started
five years ago with DJ Erot. They created “Greatest Hit,” Annie’s oldest
song here. It uses a sample from Madonna’s “C’mon Everybody” and funks it up.
The dancefloor disco of “Come Together” which is very much like Giorgio
Moroder follows this. It all ends with the slow jam of “My Best Friend.” This is a
very happy and up record. It’s about having good times and being chemical
induced by something. Very good indeed. I was excited to speak to her. She had ju
st arrived in Italy at a hotel. After a few calls to the concierge, I was able
to get through. At the same time, the results of the Michael Jackson trial
where coming down. Annie’s voice is really striking too.

Annie will be playing some shows in America, and in San Francisco and Los
Angeles, the first week of July 2005.

AL: How did you get involved in music then?
Annie: Um. I started to do music as Annie about five years ago. I was living
with my boyfriend at the time. I wasn’t working on music with him. Suddenly I
just decided to sing on one of his songs. I had a good idea and he had an idea
for this song.

AL: What did you do before that?
Annie: I used to play in a band. That was totally a different thing. We
weren’t very good. It was an indie rock band. Very bad indie rock. We only did one
show ever: the first and last. The band was called Suitcase.

AL: How was the reception to that show?
Annie: I don’t know. I was just 16 or 17 at the time. It was a contest. We
played in front of a jury. We didn’t make the finals. It was fun but it didn’t
go so well. The guitar broke during the song. It was really bad.

AL: The song “Greatest Hit” came out five years ago and now we have the
album. What were you doing during that time?
Annie: I was working on my own music. I was singing on other people’s
records. I was a DJ too. I was doing a lot of DJ gigs in England. I was DJing and
writing songs. I released another seven-inch single a year and a half after
“Greatest Hit.”

AL: What was that called?
Annie: It’s called “I Will Get On.” It’s not on the album. It was only
released in an edition of 500. It’s hard to get hold of.

AL: What sort of music do you play as a DJ?
Annie: It is pretty eclectic set. These days I play a lot of new things. I
like this artist called MU. It’s this weird electronic record. Maybe you heard

AL: Yeah, it’s great. How does that go down in a club?
Annie: Sometimes it really works. You can see people really getting into it.
But sometimes people are going: “Shit, what is this madness?” I like that. I
like playing something that you don’t know how people are going to react to.
It’s fun not knowing how people will respond.

AL: Do you like Madonna?
Annie: Yeah, I was a big Madonna fan. I really, really liked her. I like her
old records.

AL: Your album really reminds me of that time, 1983 and 1984, when Madonna
came out with her first album. It was still sort of an underground dance record.
MTV and people didn’t really pick up on her until her second album.
Annie: Yeah, that’s cool.

AL: Many dance records that come out now have a certain style and that is
extended over eight or ten tracks. Your record seems like three or four different
Annie: Yeah, it is. People always ask me about my biggest inspiration. I
don’t really have one inspiration. I am inspired by so much different music. You
can hear that on the record. There is some Madonna and Tom Tom Club, but it is
so much more than that.

AL: On your song “Chewing Gum” there was a slight reference to “Genius of
Love” by Tom Tom Club. Was that deliberate?
Annie: I guess so. I am a big fan of Tom Tom Club. I was working with Richard
X and he likes them as well. We had that group on our minds when we were
doing that record. They are an amazing group.

AL: “Chewing Gum” has a real summery feel to it.
Annie: Yeah. It’s true. Tom Tom Club and Prince are some of my favorite

AL: Then you have a lot of guitars on this album. You don’t expect that on
dance records. Was that inspired more by indie rock bands than dance music?
Annie: Yeah. I don’t think the record was inspired so much by indie rock.
That was more in my past. I like old dance records where they have guitar solos
and it sounds mad. I like that weird rock sound in dance music. Sometimes it
can be awful but sometimes it can be really good.

AL: Some of the bass guitar sounds on your record are like New Order or
Annie: Yeah.

AL: How do you write songs?
Annie: Some of the songs were written when I was seventeen years old. Some of
the songs were written along the way. For example, the song “Greatest Hit”
was written five years ago. I had an idea for the song “Come Together” when I
was seventeen. I wrote some of it but I never finished it. I finished it three
or four years after that. The songs have been taking shape over the years.

AL: How do you work with Royksopp or Richard X?
Annie: It is very different. I met Richard X a few years ago. He asked me to
do some songs on his album. I did one song with him. I was just talking on the
phone. I was reading a few lines on the track “Just Friends.” I met him a
few months after that and he played me the instrumental version of “Chewing
Gum.” He wrote the lyrics to “Chewing Gum” and “Me Plus One.” The rest of the
songs I wrote myself. It was a different way of working. I am used to doing
everything myself. For the other songs I had the lyrics and the melody and an idea
for the production before we started.

AL: Do you use computers?
Annie: I use Pro Tools and Logic.

AL: Are you into gadgets?
Annie: Not so much yet. But I hope I will be one day. I would love to produce
a whole album on my own. I would like to produce other artists.

AL: What songs did you produce on this album?
Annie: I didn’t produce the whole album by myself. But the songs “Helpless
Fool For Love” and “Happy Without You” I was very involved with the
production. The song “Anniemal” was another that I worked on.

AL: You are from Bergen, Norway. What is that city known for?
Annie: Um. It’s known to be the city with the most rain in all of Europe. It
rains about 300 days a year. I am not sure. It’s known for that. It’s a
fishing city. There is a lot of mountains and nature there. It’s madness.

AL: When you play live now do you play with a band or are you just being a DJ?
Annie: Actually I do both. I have been going on tour with a band. We have now
been doing a DJ live set. We have had five shows so far. We are in Italy now.
We DJ a little bit. Timo has with him a sampler and an echo machine. We
combine things: a DJ set and a live set. We are just beginning to do this. We are
still experimenting with it. It’s interesting and fun. But I love playing with
a band as well. It’s good to have the possibility of playing smaller clubs
with just the two of us and then doing bigger stuff with a live band.

AL: You are coming to America and touring for the first time in July 2005.
What are the sets going to be like?
Annie: It will be Timo and me. We are going to DJ a few records. We are going
to do a few songs live. It will be a combination.

AL: Do you have some new songs?
Annie: I do have some new songs. There will be a combination of the new songs
and the stuff on the album.

AL: Have you played with other bands before?
Annie: We haven’t yet. But we are going to England in a few days to play some
shows with Saint Etienne.

AL: Have you met them before?
Annie: When I was sixteen I met Bob Stanley from Saint Etienne. He was doing
a record label back then. We wanted to sign my band, Suitcase, back then. It
never happened. It will be funny to be playing with them and remind him that he
wanted to sign me so many years ago.

AL: What other bands do you like?
Annie: I like LCD Soundsystem. I think they are brilliant.

AL: What do you think of Mylo?
Annie: He is good. He did a remix of “Chewing Gum.” I like his album.

AL: The record is released in Europe yet?
Annie: It’s out only in Scandinavia and England. Now it’s out in the United
States. It will come out in the rest of Europe later in the summer.

AL: Are you going to play some festivals this summer?
Annie: Yeah, I am playing several festivals this summer. I think that I am
playing the V Festival. There are some of Germany and Norway.

AL: While I was waiting to get you on the phone I was watching the Michael
Jackson trail and he was found out to be “Not Guilty.” There is a lot of
excitement. Did you hear about that over there?

Annie: I just saw it on CNN. It’s quite strange.

AL: He looks sick.
Annie: He should get some help. He should go to a shrink.

AL: You don’t have any issues like that, do you?
Annie: Yeah, I like to have sex with small girls. I like girls under the age
of two months. No, I don’t. Not yet.

AL: You don’t have any eating disorders?
Annie: I don’t think so.

AL: Do you have any advice for people who want to do music?
Annie: The most important thing is to keep on doing music. You shouldn’t have
any plans. You should just do music and have a good time. You should try
different things and don’t be afraid to experiment. If a record label signs you,
don’t rush into it. Be careful. Maybe do your own label. Do everything
yourself. That is a good thing to do.

AL: Okay. Thanks.

Annie on tour July 2005:
Here are her selected tour dates for the In the Mix Annie tour featuring Timo
Kaukolampi, both on turntables and electronics, Annie on vocals.

June 28 NYC @ Hiro Ballroom
June 29 NYC @ Scenic
June 30 Chicago @ Sonotheque
July 1 San Francisco @ Mighty
July 2 L A @ TBC
July 3 LA @ Standard Downtown Rooftop - Sunday Funday
July 5 LA @ Cinespace

Website: www.anniemusic.co.uk
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Junior Senior

Junior Senior have put out one of the most exciting records. They've got the look of a group of hipsters from Williamsburg or Silverlake, but they're from Denmark's western peninsula, known as Jutland. Junior Senior topped the UK charts with their smash debut single, "Move Your Feet." The song spent nine weeks in the top ten on the Official UK Singles Chart. The track is the first single from their debut album, "D-D-DON'T DON'T STOP THE BEAT," which just recently came out in America. Junior Senior have been on a ton of TV shows and have been playing sold out shows.

The band was formed in 1998 by Jesper Mortensen (Junior) and indie rock god, Jeppe Laursen (Senior). Blending pop, rock, Motown, new wave, and hiphop influences with dance beat, their sound is undeniably infectious and their live shows are a blast. I spoke to the band right after they had finished taping the Tom Green Show. They were refreshingly unpretentious and excited to talk about their music. They are playing at Spaceland on Tuesday June 21st, 2005.

AL: So, this record came out on Crunchy Frog records a while ago?
Jesper: Yeah. That's our label. In Europe we are licensed to Universal, and in Atlantic we are licensed to Atlantic. We are still signed to Crunchy Frog. They have the right to put out the record but we still have creative freedom.

AL: How long have you been playing together?
Jesper: When was 18, I joined Jeppe's band, or Senior's band. It was semi-famous in Denmark. It was indie music, not unlike Blur, Pulp, Stereolab. That kind of British thing was going on. Before that we were into Sonic Youth. That was our background. My own music interest started with Nirvana.

AL: Nirvana was like ground zero for you.
Jesper: Exactly. That was when I discovered that there was something else out there that is more interesting for a teenager. You want to have your own thing. That was where it all started for me.

AL: When did you join his band?
Jesper: I joined in 1995. I was thrown out a year later, but we remained friends. We started this band, Junior Senior, in 1998. We played for a few years. Our first record came out in Denmark in March 2002. Denmark is such a small country. The record did okay there. We were on a few TV shows.

AL: When did you record this record?
Jesper: It was in January of 2002.

AL: When you write a song together, do you start out with beats or guitar parts?
Jesper: When I was in the other band, Jeppe wrote all the lyrics, and I didn't get to write anything, because I just joined. Now we don't have any particular way of writing. Usually it starts with a guitar, or a cool chord progression, or a little melody in your head. When you have a melody, you try to find some chords to play with it. You can always have fun with making beats. Then you have some interesting sounds. Once you have the basic songs you try to build it up. I have a bunch of unfinished songs and unused beats. It's all assembly and finding bits and pieces.

AL: Do you record stuff live as a band, or is this record done in the studio in parts?
Jesper: The thing with the drum machines and the cymbal sounds: I have prepared all that. We had all the songs. We went in the studio and layered it. I don't play the drums very well, so I had two different guys playing the drums on different tracks. We had a drum machine and played over it and found a balance. We recorded some drum parts and looped them. Some of it sounds like a drum machine. We have always been into beats. We recorded it very fast.

AL: How did you do the song "Coconuts?"
Jesper: I wanted to do something with bongos. There are all these great percussion sounds that you hear when you are a kid, like shakers, cowbells, and bongos. You think that they funny. When you clap your hands it's very human. People think that those percussion sounds are strange. I just think that they are cool. I love all that stuff. I thought that the idea of "Coconuts" was so cool. You can shake them. I am not sure why.

AL: Did you like Punk Rock?
Jesper: Yeah. I listen to music…. I wouldn't call it serious, but I like the way the Talking Heads used percussion. I thought that was very interesting. They were really into percussion and black music. But when they had the bongos, they didn't have a bunch of other instruments going on at the same time. I am attracted to the simple stuff. I got bored with the British indie mentality. I thought about how did these bands get to sound like this. So I went back and listened to many of the records that they were into.

AL: Britpop music is sort of static.
Jesper: Yeah. When we were in that other band we released a record in 1995. At the time I was into Elastica and all these bands that always looked so cool. So when we went onstage we were always acting so cool. But backstage we were always goofing around and being stupid and laughing all the time. We learned our lesson. All this pretending and wannabe shit is so stupid. You should just do what is natural for yourself. For us that means being outgoing and try to have fun with what you do. This time around, I think the music reflects the people who we are. Hit play, and let's go.

AL: Do people ask you about what you wear?
Jeppe: It's something we don't think about: whether we are into America culture or not. We used to be in a British inspired band.
Jesper: The way we look I think is really funny. When I played this TV show, people asked me "What are you going to wear?" I am wearing a t-shirt that I have had for five years. I have always worn it and I have always liked it. Of course we think about the way that we look. We have been into the same stuff for a while.

AL: I just asked because you look like a lot of hipsters in America who shop at second stores and wear old t-shirts and baseball caps.
Jesper: Yeah. We have always been second hand nerds. Since the time I was into Nirvana, I didn't want to wear the same thing that the sports dudes wore, so I went to a second hand shop and got my clothes.
Jeppe: Maybe in general a lot of the stuff from America seems like the real thing. For us it is. In Europe, a lot of the clothes are a bad copy. It's weird when you come to America and it's the real thing. It sounds so stupid.
Jesper: We have a real romantic impression of the whole American culture. It's all the stuff we saw on TV. Oh yeah, it's authentic. In Europe, it always says "Authentic American Jeans." We thought, we want the real stuff. Not this Danish imitation. That was the stuff that your mother gave you.

AL: Was it easy to get amps and guitars over there?
Jesper: Of course it's easier to get it over here because it originates from here. You have Fender and Gibson. You have all the good stuff. They came from the US for some reason. You have so much music. The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Beatles all listened to American music to get their own sound. America is just a big part of culture everywhere.

AL: Is there a socialist government in Denmark where it affects the bands? Like when you are a kid you have a choice to go to school or form a band, or do art, and the government pays for it?
Jeppe: It's all based on the more you earn, the more tax you pay, but everyone pays a lot of tax. There are no poor people in Denmark.
Jesper: You pay at least 50% tax, and if you make a lot it's 70%. That is a lot compared to America.

AL: People here think it's a crime if you pay more than 25% tax. All these rich people find ways of not paying any taxes.
Jesper: That's hip. They are the clever guys who hire other clever guys so they don't pay taxes. They make money and they find ways.

AL: You still live in Denmark?
Jesper: We just moved to London two weeks ago. We grew up in the country and lived in Copenhagen for six years or more.

AL: Where are some of the hipster neighborhoods in Copenhagen?
Jeppe: It's very small.
Jesper: Copenhagen is a big city, but everything is in the middle. That is where we lived. Outside the city is a total suburbia. You are going to get stabbed or killed if you don't look like Eminem. There is all these white kids who think they are really tough. It's scary.

AL: Do you get hiphop fans coming to your shows?
Jesper: Not really. Our crowd is more alternative. People who are open minded like us. "Move Your Feet" has been on the radio, but it's strange, because it's been on all sorts of different radio stations. They play the song or alternative radio and Radio Disney. People who come to our shows are like us. They like all types of music.

AL: Do you think that people in America just like one thing: I like Death Metal and that's all I'll ever listen to.
Jesper: Yeah. Our audience is the one who think that they don't fit into a particular box. They are cool people like us. It's stupid to think that I can only listen to rock.
Jeppe: If you know our album you have to be pretty open minded. You have to just take it for what it is. Don't worry about whether it is this or that. You can go both ways with it. You can hear "Move Your Feet" and think that is too mainstream. In their heads they can turn it into Europop if they want to. It's funny to read reviews. They are always deciding where to put us.

AL: There are all these fanzines in the UK about how cool Interpol is.
Jeppe: It's pretty easy for Interpol to be cool and be credible. It's not anything bad about their music or anything. They way they are it's very easy to fit into a cool category. It's not very dangerous being Interpol.
Jesper: There's a place when you put yourself out there, in front of an audience, where it's dangerous and it's a shaky ground. When you are a rock and roll band, there are a bunch of rules to follow. If you follow these rules, then you are a fucking cool band. Like The Velvet Underground and The Ramones: they are so fucking cool, you are not going to go wrong with following those bands. I love them. But I think it is a bit interesting when you jump out of that. Where you are at that place where it is scary, like I am trying to tell a joke, and I don't know where it's going or if it is even funny. When you are in front of five hundred people like that, that is when it is dangerous. It's more fun and more challenging.

AL: Have you played a lot of shows in America?
Jesper: Over a dozen now. The first time we played in New York was last year. You could see people thinking "Is this cool?" Or "What the hell is this?" We won them over. There were people there who never heard of us who said "I like this."

AL: What is your setlist like?
Jesper: We play one cover song. But we have been playing the same set for a year now. It's sort of sad. But we have been going to new cities all the time. They haven't heard the songs yet. We are going to do some new songs soon. We haven't started writing the second record yet.

AL: Do you read a lot?
Jesper: Mostly rock biographies. I can't get that quiet time. I don't play video games anymore either. I carry a laptop with me. I play music and listen to music.
Jeppe: If we have any free time now, we go hang with our friends and relax.

AL: Did you go to school or University?
Jeppe: We were talking about the social security system in Denmark before. You get paid money if you go to school. We did that. We got money but never bothered showing up to classes.
Jesper: I spent a lot of that time looking for old records. I never find anything in America that I want to buy. I am looking for rare records and nobody seems to have them.

AL: When you got signed did you go buy some gear or some rare records?
Jesper: I went out and bought some new guitars. That was a great day. I never thought there would be that much money in my bank account.

AL: What movies do you like?
Jeppe: We have been watching all the John Waters movies. It's pretty obvious that we would like that stuff. Coal Miner's Daughter is great.
Jesper: I like films about music. I just saw one about Carole King and another about Ike and Tina Turner. Laurence Fishburne looked so cool when he had the Beatles haircut. Ike Turner is so mean. You almost take his side because he looks so damn cool. I like Woody Allen films.

AL: Jeppe, how does it feel to be the tallest guy in rock?
Jeppe: When I go to a show in London everyone comes to my shoulders. But in Denmark, there are a lot of tall people. If I grew up in America maybe I would have played basketball. I try to have a good time onstage. I try to interact with the audience, through the music, not through MC tricks.
Jesper: We just try to be ourselves. It sounds so boring. But we don't want to do anything we are not comfortable with. People might come to a show and see one small guy and one big guy and think it's a crazy comedy act. But we are just a band that is playing their music.

AL: Who did the video for "Move Your Feet?"
Jeppe: It's four guys from London called Shinola. We had to do the video very fast. We got a lot of treatments from directors that were really bad. We sent them a long description of who we were and what we like. They just ripped us off. They thought they would get to do the video if they just rehashed what we told them about ourselves. We contacted Shinola on our own. The stuff they had done was really different. They had just done a video by Radiohead.
Jesper: We told them that we wanted some graphic stuff. We said that we wanted the video to be something people hadn't really seen before. They sent us back a clip and we thought that was really cool. There have been other videos with computer games stuff. But what we liked about this one was it didn't have any specific computer games references. It had the color and movement. The squirrel eating everything was great. It was like its own movie.

AL: Have you done another video?
Jeppe: We have done another video for "Boy Meets Girl." We are really pleased with it. It is by the same guy who did the Hives "Main Offender" video. It is like graphics and video together.


Alexander Laurence

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The Raveonettes @ Spaceland

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Photos: Evelyn Olah
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More Photos

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The Troubadour

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Weezer @ Coachella

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Hanin Elias @ Key Club

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Spoon @ Amoeba

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Maria Taylor @ Troubadour

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Mercury Rev @ Coachella

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Mark Redfern (Under The Radar) @ Coachella

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Har Mar Superstar (with Gary Libertine) @ Troubadour

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Giant Drag @ Troubadour

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Alexander 2005

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Blonde Redhead

Blonde RedheadBy Alexander Laurence
Blonde Redhead with their unique sound and deadpan vocals have always been, for me, the quintessential New York band. Even though none of them are American. Early on they were compared to Sonic Youth. They have a cult following that is very intense. It all started innocently enough. The band met by chance at an Italian restaurant in New York: Japanese art student Kazu Makino (guitar/vocals) and Italian twin brothers Simone Pace (drums) and Amedeo Pace (guitar/vocals) found each other and formed the band in 1993.
The name Blonde Redhead was taken from a song by the 1980s no-wave band DNA. With Kazu Makino and Amedeo on guitars and vocals, Simone on drums. The band had a chaotic angular sound in the early days. The early albums reflect their interest in no-wave bands and the Dischord label. They grew out of that and turned to more melodic and European influences. Blonde Redhead was a fine band on a small label.
In 1997, their first great record, Fake Can Be Just as Good, was released. The next record, In an Expression of the Inexpressible, was not as distinct, but their fanbase grew nonetheless. A notable less noisy and accessible, Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons came out in 2000. They seemed more interested in song structure and melody. This record was their most successful.
Kazu Makino was thrown from a horse in 2002. She sustained serious injuries when it stepped on her, breaking her jaw. Understandably, the band took some time off and missed out on the New York music explosion of the past years. But they were a band that all these New York bands admired like Interpol and Secret Machines. Blonde Redhead signed to a bigger label (4AD) this year. Their new album Misery Is a Butterfly, was released in late March 2004. I spoke to the members of the band at the beginning of their first big American tour in a few years.

AL: When did you record the new album?
Simone: We recorded it at the beginning of 2003. It took a few months. We worked with Guy Picciotto. This was the third record we did with him.

AL: Most of this album is live takes. You went back and did some overdubs?
Simone: Yeah. Every song is different. Some songs we will go in and do it all together. Some songs will be drums first. Maybe I will play with one of them or both. We will put down some sort of track. We want to make sure that the drums are good. We want it to flow nicely. We will then work on it and add things.
AL: How do you write songs? Is there a lot of jamming?
Simone: There is some jamming. Not a lot. We work together on all the songs. First we will bring in the harmonic ideas. Then we will take things from there. We will bring in records. We will bring in old tapes that we have recorded before. We will bring in some old ideas. It is a constant changing of one idea. We develop the sound. We record everything we do and play it back.
AL: There is a lot of listening involved?
Simone: Yeah, a lot of listening. There is a lot of deleting. We will keep little things. We will develop those little ideas over time.
AL: Does Kazu and Amedeo write the lyrics that they sing?
Simone: Yes, exactly.
AL: There was a lot of time between this album and the previous one. Did you have more time to work on the songs?
Simone: We did take a little bit longer this time. We did have some problems. That delayed us a little bit. When it was time to record, Guy couldn't come because his mother passed away. Kazu got really hurt. That gave us more time even though the things that were happening were sad. That extended our time to develop the songs. It was a blessing in disguise because we were coming up with ideas for songs that were more finished and complete by the time we got into the studio. We wanted to record before. We weren't ready.
AL: Last year you played some shows in California. Did you play new songs?
Simone: We played two new songs then.
AL: You played at MOCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art. It was a street festival and you played at three in the afternoon.
Simone: It was nice to be invited to play that. The Director of the museum took us around and showed us what was going on there. It was great. I like playing museums. We also played at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Both times it was inspiring because you look at art and then you go play a show.
AL: The song "Magic Mountain" on the new album: is that based on the Thomas Mann novel?
Simone: Yeah.
AL: That is a long novel. Shouldn't you have done a twelve-minute song?
Simone: I don't know. You should ask Kazu.
AL: The last album came out and you toured for a long time. Are you going to write new songs any time soon?
Simone: We just started this tour. We are going to play for most of this year. Maybe later this fall we will write some songs and go back into the studio. You never know.
AL: Since the release of your last album and this new one, there are several New York bands like Interpol, The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and The Rapture. What do you think of all these bands coming from New York, many of them influenced by Blonde Redhead?
Simone: It's good to see a lot of good music coming from New York. Because that was always not the case. Because New York is New York, maybe it's the best place to write music and it has the best bands, but it is not like that. To me it is refreshing to like some of the music that is going on there now. I was listening to Interpol today. It's very good.
AL: You were on some indie labels for many years. Now you are on 4AD. Why the change?
Simone: We wanted to do things differently this time. We wanted to license our record. We couldn't do that with all labels. Some labels don't want to do that. 4AD was one of the labels that was interested in giving us that opportunity. We wanted to do a whole new adventure. There were many people interested. It wasn't so long ago. We just decided to do this six months ago. We recorded the album on our own. We didn't have any label. We paid for it ourselves. We said let's do it the way we want and see if anyone is interested in releasing it.
AL: Do you like any new bands?
Simone: We are doing this tour with Secret Machines. I haven't heard them yet. My brother Amedeo really likes them.
AL: Do you listen to a lot of music?
Simone: I do listen to music. Probably not the kind of music you think I listen to. I listen to Classical music, French music, and Italian music. I listen to rock music.
AL: A few years ago you did the Serge Gainsbourg song. Your records sound more like French music than most American pop music.
Simone: Yeah.
AL: Do you read a lot?
Simone: I just got a new Italian book from my brother.
AL: I like Pasolini.
Simone: I have read a few things by Pasolini.
AL: The music of Blonde Redhead reminds me of dreams and watching films. Are there any films that you like?
Simone: I like the films of Antonioni. I love his films. I love the pace of the films. They take their time. I love repetition in music. Sometimes I like to stay with one idea. It's like you become paralyzed by it. I like movies like that.
AL: When people come to see you play this year what should they expect?
Simone: We are going to play some new songs. It's hard because now the album isn't out yet. Most people haven't heard it unless they downloaded from the internet. So for the first part of this tour we are playing songs that people don't know yet.
AL: The record comes out on March 23rd, 2004.
Simone: We are going to play seven or eight songs from the new album. The rest will be a mix from the other albums. We are going to stick it out though.
AL: Is there a secret Beatles influence on the last few albums?
Simone: A little bit. I think we pulled out those records and listened to them. I think it had more to do with the last album than this album. This album has more to do with French stuff and English stuff, like The Cure. We were listening to some Icelandic stuff. We were listening a lot to the Rolling Stones.

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RU Sirius

On June 8, 2005, RU Sirius is “on the air” with his first podcast program for Mondo Globo Network. The mastermind behind the legendary hipster technoculture magazine Mondo 2000 debuts with the "RU Sirius Show," podcasting June 8," followed by "NeoFiles," podcasting June 11. Mondo Globo Network will offer shows that entertain, inform, upset, excite, and induce hallucinations.

The RU Sirius Show June 8 (www.mondoglobo.net and www.rusiriusradio.com)

Fred Burks will be the first guest on the RU Sirius Show. Burks worked as an interpreter for President George W. Bush and recently testified for the defense in the trial of Abu Bakar Baasyir, the 68-year-old preacher the U.S. blames for the 2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia that have been associated with Al Qaeda. In the words of a 2/22/05 Wall Street Journal article, “Frederick Burks believes in UFOs, communes with dolphins, runs a Web site that promotes conspiracy theories about U.S. complicity in the 9/11 attacks and thinks Washington may have had a hand in blowing up bars on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

“And, until last October, he had the ear of the world's most powerful man…”

What’s up with Fred Burks? Learn more on June 8.

It’s the RU Sirius Show. “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.”

NeoFiles Show June 11 (www.mondoglobo.net/NeoFiles - soon)

Continuing in the tradition of the text-based NeoFiles website (http://www.neofiles.net), RU Sirius will bring his interviews exploring the edges of 21st century science, technology, and philosophy into the podverse. The opening NeoFiles radio conversation will be with New York Times technology writer John Markoff about his new book, “What The Dormouse Said: How The 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer.”

RU Sirius Show www.rusiriusradio.com
NeoFiles www.MondoGlobo.net/neofiles/ (soon)
Mondo Globo Network www.MondoGlobo.net

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New Photos

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The infinite library

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Razorlight @ Coachella 2005

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Har Mar Superstar @ Troubadour

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LACDA with people

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Mando Diao @ Troubadour

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Keith Martin of SFburning.com

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My home computer

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Broadway Street May 2005

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Sign on 5th Street

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Giant Drag @ Troubadour

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Alexander Laurence 2004
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